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she’s mad - like you

ok, I’ll see you around seven … shall I wait outside? … no, park and then ring the bell and I’ll let you in …

as I drove my head was full of questions and images … would she look the same  …  she always looked much younger than she was … and so pretty … did I look the same … I knew I didn’t … two stone lighter and sun-darkened skin … fit though … lean and mean …

would she remember any of the good times … there had been many … at least at the start … tender moments … lots of laughter … lots of holding closely … lots of loving … lots of talking about all the exciting things we planned to do together … beautiful moments too … waking in the night and looking with wonder at her silky skin and the gentle curve of her back as she slept … waking in the morning to a kiss and a bright-eyed smile …

but it hadn’t lasted  … eaten away by so many small but damaging things … friends nagging about the age gap … and the two marriages … and so many jobs … and not enough money … and the debt … and behind all that … though I hadn’t known … the wondering about whether it should be a boyfriend at all …

 

at the end it was grim …  days and nights of bitter arguments … stop smoking – we can’t afford it … don’t buy concert tickets … we could have spent that on something more useful … why do you need to see her … you said you didn’t like her …  don’t buy wine  … it makes us argue …

 but we knew it wasn’t the wine … it was us …

 

then, at the airport … friends again … it’s good to see you again, she said … don’t go … we could try again … that other stuff wasn’t what I really wanted … but I had to see if it was … maybe we could live together a couple of days a week … it could be good again …

but we knew that it couldn’t … and I’d left her, waving … and cried all the way onto the plane

 

I knocked, tentatively … then she was there, smiling … eyes full of mischief … bright as ever … come on up … it’s good to see you again

the flat was much like I remembered … a bit neater than when I lived there too …

you’ve lost a lot of weight … too much … you look haggard …  ah well … so much for lean and mean …

 

looking around the room as we talked and sipped the wine, I noticed a cigarette packet and a vodka bottle … I smiled and tried really hard not to say anything, but she asked what was amusing me …

I wondered who’s the smoker … and the vodka drinker ... you used to say that they were two of the things about me that really annoyed you ..

she smiled ruefully … amongst many other things … then fell silent for a moment

she smiled again, took my hand, and pulled me towards the door… come on, you’re going to treat me to dinner … I told Anna we'd be back around ten… she’s not home from work yet …

but she wants to meet you later, so don’t think you can just drop me and run off … if we’re going to be friends, then you and Anna will need to get on too …

and don’t worry … she knows all about you … including the bad bits … but also how much we loved each other back then …

 

you’ll like her … she’s mad - like you